Test Your Play

1. Matchpoints

Dlr:
West
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ 10 8 6
A K 8 7 2
7 4 3
♣ Q 9
South
♠ K 7 5
J 9 6 5 4 3
A K Q
♣ A
WEst North East South
Pass Pass Pass 1
Pass 2♣(1) Pass 4
All Pass

(1) Drury: invitational raise

West leads the♣J (standard). Plan your matchpoint play.

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION
Dlr:
West
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ 10 8 6
A K 8 7 2
7 4 3
♣ Q 9
South
♠ K 7 5
J 9 6 5 4 3
A K Q
♣ A

The play for an overtrick in 4 will be much easier to plan if you cover the opening lead of the ♣J with the queen. If East has the king,
it will be very hard (read impossible) to play low unless you have shown East your hand. Assuming East plays the king and West has the 10, the play is simple. Draw trumps, strip the diamonds, cross to dummy with a heart and lead the ♣9. After East plays low, discard a spade and force a spade lead from West. If West has led from the ♣K J 10, the same throw-in
exists.

Aside from that, the spade position is interesting if no club throw-in exists and spades must be played for one trick after the hand has been stripped. Assume for the moment that neither opponent has bid spades and you lead the ♠6 from dummy. There are three possibilities:

  1. East plays low. You play low and after West takes the trick, West is endplayed. West must either break spades or give you a ruff and a sluff.
  2. East plays the 9: It is right to duck. Ducking wins when West remains with A–x or A–Q–J. (Notice that if West started with A–Q–J–x, he had better not have discarded that low spade.) If West remains with the A–Q or A–J doubleton, it doesn’t matter whether you cover or not: You are safe because the suit is blocked. If East started with J–9 doubleton, it is right to cover as the suit is blocked. (If East started with J–9 doubleton, however, that means that West did not overcall 1♠, not vulnerable, with A–Q–x–x–x. Unlikely.) If East started with Q–9 doubleton, and you cover, you must take a trick. If you duck and East continues with the queen, you can prevail by ducking again, but are in serious postmortem trouble if East now plays the ace! You win more often by ducking and then playing the king when East plays the 9.
  3. East plays the jack or queen. Assuming West has the 9, you are assured of one trick by covering. Note that if East started with the Q–J–9–x–x, East must play an honor to encourage a cover. It is a mandatory play second hand must make in a strip position when partner is known to have A–x. If If partner has K–x, partner is expected to unblock the king under the ace.

2. IMPs

Dlr:
South
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ K 2
10 7 6 3
A Q
♣ A K 10 9 7
South
♠ A Q
A K J
J 9 6 3 2
♣ J 8 4
WEst North East South
1NT
Pass 2♣ Pass 2
Pass 4NT All Pass

The opening lead is the ♠J. What is your best play for 10 tricks?

CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTION
Dlr:
South
Vul:
E-W
North
♠ K 2
10 7 6 3
A Q
♣ A K 10 9 7
South
♠ A Q
A K J
J 9 6 3 2
♣ J 8 4

West leads the ♠J against 4NT.

“Finesses Galore” should be the title of this deal. Win the spade in your hand (either honor) and lead a diamond to the queen. Assuming this loses (otherwise you have at least 10 tricks by playing on clubs), win the spade return and cash both minor-suit aces. Assuming both follow, cash the A K and (assuming the queen has not made an appearance) cash the J, discarding a heart from dummy. If diamonds were not 3–3 and the 10 was not doubleton (you’re pretty unlucky, aren’t you?) run the ♣J as a last-resort measure. This series of plays logs in at a touch over 90%. Did you do better? (Starting clubs before diamonds is not better.)